News 25 Jul 2018
A consignment of Tongan squash to be shipped to China this year is targeted to be around 600-700 metric tonnes (mt), an increase from 248mt last year due to export demand.
Squash grower and exporter Minoru Nishi Jr, Managing Director of Nishi Trading, said despite the setback caused by Tropical Cyclone Gita in February, they are aiming to supply at least 600-700 metric tonnes (mt) of the 1000mt order from China this year.
Prior to the category 4 cyclone, the projected export of squash this year was 2,000mt but was revised down to 1,000mt. Tonga continues to recover in the aftermath of the cyclone.
He said Nishi Trading has a lot more farmers growing squash for them this year than last, as indicated in the volume they predict to send this year, starting next month.
Export volumes to China increased from an initial one container of 24mt, sent during a trial shipment in 2016, to 248mt exported last year.
Based on the success of the first shipment, Tonga and China jointly signed a market access protocol in October 2017 and trade has gradually increased.
Nishi said the three-year projections for squash exports into China continue to show a steady increase to 5,000 tonnes in the third year, or over AUD$6 million ($10 million pa'anga) in total over the 2018–2020 period.
The support by the Australian and New Zealand-funded Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Program to the squash industry was also revised down but is still a substantial estimated AUD$1.6 million. ($2.7 million pa'anga) over 2018-20 (down from AUD$2.0 million or $3.3 million pa'anga).
Exporters are hoping that a reduction in China’s import duty of 13 percent on Tongan squash can be negotiated between the Governments.
NIshi said that their focus this year is to ensure quality is at its best so that we can demand a better price from the market next year and beyond.
PHAMA had previously helped Nishi Trading meet China’s specified standards for their pack house and funded two verification visits by the Chinese Quarantine Agency (the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine agency or AQSIQ).
The improved pack house facility has been made available to all Tongan squash exporters on a cost recovery basis.
Tonga's squash exports peaked at 22,500 tonnes in 2003 before suffering a major decline after Tonga lost out on its market share to Japan, due to competition from larger exporting countries.
At its peak, more than 800 Tongan farmers produced squash for export to Japan.
Source: Matangi Tonga